I finally had a chance to catch "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" this weekend. After hearing some not so good things about this action/horror/fantasy/comedy, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. It was a fun, fast paced genre film that seems quite underrated. More after the break....
The past few years have given us a quite a few re-imaginings of classic fairy tales. While the gold standard among these is Fables, a long running comic book series (with quite a few spinoffs) by Bill Willingham, other examples include the Grimm's Fairy Tales comic series by Zenoscope Entertainment, the video games "American McGee's Alice" and "Alice: Madness Returns", the TV series "Once Upon a Time" on ABC, and recent films such as "Snow White and the Huntsman", "Red Riding Hood", and "The Brothers Grimm". It seems like both creators and fans enjoy seeing childhood stories come to life in darker, more sinister ways. "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" takes the original German fairy tale and explores what happened to the titular siblings afterwards, adding in plenty of blood and action along the way.
|And diabetes. You can't eat a house made of candy without factoring in diabetes.|
Of course not. It turns out that rather than just killing a few average witches, the siblings have to deal with a town who wants to burn an innocent girl they believe to be a witch (Mina, played by Pihla Viitala), an uncooperative local Sheriff (played by Peter Stormare), trolls, an adoring fanboy with a thing for Gretel, Hansel's diabetes, exploding people, secrets from their past, and Muriel (Famke Jansen), an extremely powerful witch with plans to make herself and all witches forever immune to fire. (Fire is basically witch Kryptonite.) Famke Jansen doesn't get much screen time to fully let her character's motivations develop, but she does get the opportunity to display both her charm and her malice. The film contains a few twists that pop up later in the film, although you might guess most of them before the characters do.
|X-Men 4: Zombie Jean Grey|
|" Hey Hansel, where's Gretel?" Oh, there she is.|
Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), Hansel and Gretel is a rapidly paced film that's sole purpose is to entertain. The movie was beautifully shot (mostly shot on location in Germany outside of traditional studios) and really captures the haunted, old world vibe that works so well in a fairy tale film. While I did not see the movie in 3-D (as I usually don't like 3-D films) I was still fully satisfied. The film takes such joy in promoting its locales, fight scenes, and cool gadgets that it often feels like a comic book or video game. That's not a knock against the film; it simply knows that its here to entertain us with its creepy, fun atmosphere. While the movie has some slightly creepy moments and lots of bloody action, it also has a very self aware, almost tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. I still find myself chuckling over a sight gag where we see the drawings of missing children attached to bottles of milk. Goofy little anachronisms like this just help to spell out that despite the serious appearance of things, this film just wants to have fun.
|Witch fact of the day #4: Witches hate shovels.|
|Hansel is not a fan of "Twitches"|
Overall, I'm giving Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 4 out of 5 stars. Sometimes you just see a movie that hits all the right chords and you feel like it was made specifically for you. That's kind of how I felt watching this movie. I had a blast it and certainly plan to snag it on Blu-ray. That's perhaps one of the best compliments I can give to a movie, as it means that I can see myself sitting down and wanting to watch this movie again from time to time. This movie isn't going to change your life, but if you go in wanting to watch an action/horror film with a slightly dark sense of humor, you should be satisfied.
|Gemma Arterton wielding an automatic crossbow and hunting witches? Automatic 4 stars!!!|